Instructor(s): Bryant Garth

Note: The add/drop date for this course is Monday, January 8 at 10:00 PM.

Course Location: Please see the "Intensive Course Schedule" under Schedules and Timetables (

Note: Attendance at intensive courses is mandatory for the duration of the course.

This course will provide an historical and comparative study of the relationship between lawyers, empires, and social change. The course should allow students to understand how local and transnational economic and social reforms, with connected legal transformations, relate to and often depend on global power dynamics. The topic is very broad, but the assigned readings for the course will focus especially on the rise and potential fall of the United States as a legalistic, “anti-imperial empire” with impacts globally since the Second World War. Lawyers and movements for social change inside and outside the United States relate to that hegemony. The class will have available sociological and historical studies from Asia (China, India, and South Korea), Africa (especially South Africa), Latin America (especially Brazil) (and I hope Canada). They may help suggest paper topics. There will then be assigned readings on two or three case studies of the interconnected roles of both historical empires and the recent period of US hegemony. The class will examine the conditions that produced the rise of public interest law, especially in the United States, and the institutionalization of international human rights globally. The rise of neo-liberalism manifested in part in the remarkable global spread of corporate law firms – and legal education reforms oriented toward corporate law firms --will be another related topic. Empires and imperial processes intersecting with local politics are central to these developments.

Students will be evaluated based on a final paper on an agreed topic of 2500 to 3000 words. Papers must be delivered to the Records Office by 4:00 p.m. on February 5, 2024.
Academic year
2023 - 2024

At a Glance

Second Term



20 JD


Monday, January 8, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Tuesday, January 9, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Wednesday, January 10, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Thursday, January 11, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Friday, January 12, 2024: 9:30 am – 11:30 am